TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED started in 1984 as a conference to bring together inspirees from all three disciplines, from all over the globe. The annual conference hosts speakers such as John Maeda, Jane Goodall, Stuart Brand, Bill Clinton, Paul Bennett, who are doing progressive work and leave you with practical steps on how to approach problems in each individual line of work. Today, has grown to a point where there are thousands of people on the waiting list to attend a 1000 person attendee conference. With this point, it is worth finding out what this is all about.
The mission is to spread ideas and this is wholeheartedly what they do. The TED conference is held in Monterey, California every year. Since the first in ’84, the content has expanded to include science, business, the arts, and the global issues facing the world. The speakers are challenged to give their most compelling speech and pose an engaging argument in only 18-minute slots. During the 4-day conference, all the attendees share the same experience. This means there are no breakout groups or small work sessions.
“It shouldn’t work, but it does. It works because all of knowledge is connected. Every so often it makes sense to emerge from the trenches we dig for a living, and ascend to a 30,000-foot-view, where we see, to our astonishment, an intricately interconnected whole.” Quotes the TED website.
The 2008 conference will be held February 27- March 1. The content is said to be the most ambitious yet- the defined topic is “The Big Questions”. Additionally, due to the high attendance request, TED will host a live broadcast of the conference in Aspen, Colorado in collaboration with the Aspen Institute. The schedule, format, and content remain the same.
The most interesting aspect of the TED network is that the conference isn’t the end result. Often times these events are closed to all who don’t attend and the exclusivity makes it distasteful to those who can’t attend. Well, TED wants to accomplish the contrary. While the actual event remains small to keep it special, all talks are recorded and free for viewing on the website.
As TED’s slogan is “Ideas Worth Spreading”, TED encourages everyone who is inspired by what they see to spread the word. With suggestions such as holding a viewing session and discussion in the office at lunch hour, emailing videos to friends, share videos with students or classmates… As the TED mission is not exclusive to upper economies, they are also reaching out to media or tech companies who have ideas of new, innovative ways to spread the content worldwide. As a matter of fact, with the growing interest in the TED content, they began holding an international conference every year. The content for these events are a bit more specific to issues (political or environmental) facing the chosen location.